[ISN] Denso's management of classified data lax

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Mon Mar 19 2007 - 22:05:06 PST


The Yomiuri Shimbun
March 20, 2007

An ongoing criminal case that indicates China is seeking to acquire 
Japanese high technology is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

A Chinese engineer working for leading auto parts manufacturer Denso 
Corp. has been arrested on suspicion of embezzlement for allegedly 
downloading information from the company's database into a personal 
computer provided by the firm for company use and removing the PC from 
the company premises.

The engineer is alleged to have downloaded about 130,000 blueprints for 
items including an industrial robot and a diesel fuel injection pump. 
The downloaded data cover about 1,700 products, of which 280 were 
categorized as classified.

The engineer downloaded most of the data in the latter half of last 
year. Since October, he has traveled to China three times. He destroyed 
his own PC's hard disk in an apparent attempt to destroy evidence.

This suspicious behavior indicates he has already leaked classified 
information to China.


National interest at risk

Denso enjoys a high global reputation for its technologies and products. 
The downloaded blueprints are for commercial products, but they could be 
converted to build military hardware. Vast amounts of such data may 
already have been passed to China. The case must be thoroughly 
investigated to determine whether the data was stolen for commercial or 
military purposes.

Denso's data management clearly was lax. The issue is not the losses 
incurred by one company, but whether Japan's national interests were 

Before coming to Japan, the Chinese engineer worked for a state-run 
military company that manufactures missiles and other products. He 
serves as deputy chairman of an association of auto engineers in Japan 
whose members include Chinese nationals.

We wonder why a foreigner with such a background was assigned to a 
section where important information was accessible.


Anti-espionage laws lacking

At a time when economic activities between Japan and China are 
intensifying, Yamaha Motor Co. has been charged with illegally exporting 
unmanned helicopters to China. The National Police Agency believes China 
is trying to obtain various advanced technologies and related 
information in Japan.

Following a series of revisions, the maximum penalty for leaking 
corporate secrets stipulated in the Unfair Competition Prevention Law 
has been increased to 10 years in prison--in line with punitive 
provisions in the U.S. Economic Espionage Act.

The Penal Code stipulates a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 
embezzlement. The police reportedly also plan to establish a case under 
the Unfair Competition Prevention Law as it provides for a heavier 

Though there are some controls on spying under the Unfair Competition 
Prevention Law, some government officials have pointed out that no 
legislation has been established to deal comprehensively with espionage 

The issue is not limited to confidential data in the private sector. The 
government must quickly come up with ways to prevent foreign spies 
obtaining defense and diplomatic secrets.

Management of important information and employment of foreign engineers 
and researchers are not issues that can be left to the private sector 

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